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On multiple occasions, I've spoken about a web design with clients who become concerned that the user will not know that they can scroll beyond a certain part of the website. Invariably, these are full-width sections the client is talking about, but I can't help but think these concerns are invalid because the section in question doesn't even need to look like a footer. This isn't just one client, this is many over various design layouts.

Is this a legitimate concern? Are there actually users out there that don't know they can scroll? If these concerns are in fact invalid, what justification can I give to the client?

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No, it's not a legitimate concern. It has been demonstrated countless times this is just a myth. See links below:

However...

There might be certain circumstances that may change this, so be sure to always communicate there's more content below. In my own testing, this is specially needed with Mac users with no scrollbar shown by default, so it never hurts to help users know there's more content below (there are many techniques for this)

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We just had a client tell us that when they polled their users on a landing page design, there were several users who said they didn't know that they should scroll. I was dumbfounded, because I was under the impression that everyone using the internet was familiar with scrolling. We opted to create a small bouncing arrow with text above it that says "Scroll for more information".

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  • Hi Chris, do you have a question that you want answered? It's not clear here that you do. The community is here to contribute, but we need clarification on the problem you're trying to solve. Do you need research to help with the client?
    – Mike M
    Jun 30 '17 at 22:55
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    @Mike - huh? Chris was answering the question. Admittedly he could've worded it more directly e.g. "Yes- in our experience, some users didn't know they needed to scroll ..."
    – J. Dimeo
    Jul 1 '17 at 1:22
  • @J.Dimeo ha! sorry. Faceplant :( I was looking and thinking that Chris was 'asking' the question! Sorry Chris; Didn't sleep too much last night...
    – Mike M
    Jul 1 '17 at 1:44
  • @Mike No worries!
    – J. Dimeo
    Jul 1 '17 at 1:53
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While this may be a "myth" my older clients have consistently told me they didn't know content existed below the fold and also inquired how other people are supposed to know. Although it makes me face palm, I do think it's a legitimate concern for user experience for older user bases.

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  • Hi Julian, thank you for your participation. Could you please provide evidence in order to support you answer?
    – Johnny UX
    Nov 11 '20 at 22:02
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On a PC screen a strong horizontal element at the bottom of the screen can give a 'false bottom' appearance:

https://www.nngroup.com/articles/illusion-of-completeness/

Less of an issue on mobile as its easier to roll the screen to see if there is more below by touch.

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